Local celebrity artwork will be sold at auction to benefit student initiatives as the Westerville Education Foundation holds its An Artful Affair.

The annual event will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Lakes Golf and Country Club, 6740 Worthington Road, Westerville.

Colleen Moidu, the foundation's executive director, said funds raised from the auction of local celebrity art will benefit the newly formed Westerville Student Education Foundation.

In January, a group of 20 local celebrities and community leaders gathered at the Westerville Education Foundation's Celebrity Sip and Sketch to create original pieces of artwork to help fund innovative projects in the Westerville City School District.

Moidu said the celebrity artists are so inspired that the sale of their artwork will benefit the Westerville Student Education Foundation they are pledging matches for the auction.

Westerville City Council Chairman Michael Heyeck has offered to match the winning bid on his artwork up to $1,000. Westerville Mayor Craig Treneff followed by pledging up to a $1,001 match for the sale of his art, and Nancy Nestor-Baker, a Westerville school board member, also pledged up to a $1,002 match for the sale of her art.

Earlier this year, leadership from the Westerville Education Foundation and the district worked with students from all three high schools to found the Westerville Student Education Foundation, according to Moidu.

The mission of Westerville Student Education Foundation is to give students the opportunity and resources to take the ideas they have for improving their schools and community and turn them into action and impact.

Cassie Cotter, a founding member of the student education foundation, said she often describes it as a student version of the Westerville Education Foundation.

"Like the WEF, we obtain funds from the community to help provide grants to people in the district who want to have a positive impact. However, we are a student-led organization, which is something we're very proud of," she said.

Cotter said a majority of the student members were nominated by teachers to serve on the Superintendent Student Advisories.

"These groups at each of the high schools were asked if they would be interested in being a part of the program," she said. "We are in the midst of creating an application process for new recruitments. Currently, there are about 15 kids who represent all three Westerville high schools."

Cotter said the group's current project is a "Safe Spaces" initiative.

"We are working to create areas in all three high schools that students can go to when they are feeling stressed, anxious, or just having a rough day," she said. "These spaces will help these students to be able to calm themselves down so they can focus when they get back to class."

More about the student education foundation can be found in a video at https://tinyurl.com/WSEFSomeday.

"Our students have unique and sophisticated perspectives on issues that affect them and our community," Moidu said.

"They are ready to make positive changes in the world and our goal with the WSEF is to support them, in collaboration with the district staff and community, to have an impact now."

Some of the issues the student education foundation plans to support include recycling/composting, mental health, inclusion of the district's diverse student body, and school safety.

"What is happening with the WSEF is incredibly innovative," said John Kellogg, Westerville schools superintendent. "As far as I know, this is the first student-led Education Foundation."

Individual tickets for An Artful Affair cost $60; group tickets cost $50 and they are still available.

Education First Credit Union, Mount Carmel St. Ann's and Alliance Data are presenters for the event.

For a preview of the artwork and to purchase tickets, visit artfulaffair.info.

In addition to the celebrity artwork, there will be close to 100 pieces of artwork from local professional and practicing artists, live music and food.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla